Sunday, October 7, 2012

Teaching Planning: Beijing and Auckland

Fourth Year students from the Planning School at Auckland University went on a study tour to China visiting Beijing and Shanghai. In Beijing they visited Renmin University.... generally known as "The People's University of China".
Here are the kiwi students outside Renmin University's main library building. The tour was organised by Kai Gu, Professor of Urban Planning at Auckland University. About half the students were european kiwi, about a quarter were chinese kiwi, and  a quarter chinese chinese - overseas students studying planning at Auckland Uni.

I went along at Kai's invitation, paying my own way, keen to learn. I was also asked to give a lecture in the local planning school about New Zealand planning and the RMA. More later...
According to the University website, we read that the following statements about the university:

Vision: To Build Remnin University of China into “a World-Renowned University that is Approved by and Satisfies the People”.

Mission: to Educate for the People, to Conduct Scholarship for the Country

Motto: To Seek Truth from Facts

Central Idea: People’s University, A Spirit of Humanism, A Focus on Humanities and Social Sciences

Cultivation Goal: To Create Outstanding Exemplars of the Country, and the Backbone of the Society"


This is the Business School at the university. Apparently the University was originally established in 1937 during the resistance war against Japanese aggression. It was renamed Renmin University of China in 1950 and is one of the most prestigious universities in China, with a distinct focus on humanities and social sciences.

Renmin University has produced many influential figures in China's reform and development, and is home to many outstanding scholars in law, economics, journalism and other fields. I understand that many senior political figures studied at Renmin Uni. In 2009, RUC reached an enrollment of 22,856 full-time students, including 10,852 undergraduate students, 9,834 postgraduate students, 1,578 international students and 592 other students.

Here the visiting students mix and mingle with their buddies from Renmin's Planning School. Studenst had a number of planning projects to research during the visit - including comparative planning, policies for intensification, policies for heritage protection.
Before I get into the comparative planning stuff, a few pictures to give an impression of the "city within a city" feel of the Renmin University Campus. You access it via one of several entry gates, and there is a grid network of streets - with low speed limit - interconnecting the different schools and buildings.

Lots of cycle parking. And being in the middle of metropolitan Beijing there was very good public transport access.
In the background are student accommodation buildings. Many post graduate students live on site. Very pleasant park like settings are part of campus. Accommodation is not that great though - as students must share rooms - several to a room.
This new building in the campus caught my eye because I think it's the first time I've seen a building whose roof area was completely covered by photo-voltaic cells.
Ok. So here's me at the end of my little talk about RMA planning NZ. You can imagine what I covered. But I'll give you a couple of slides from the talk, and an idea of the questions that were asked by Professor Zhang Lei (sitting directly in front of me in the pic...)

I began by talking about the history of planning in NZ. Town and Country Planning and all that - then got into the build up to the RMA.

The main forces included those who wanted much greater protection for the environment...
...and we had the neo-liberal force as well - which I tried to summarise in this slide...
Then I described in some detail a couple of planning case studies - one a coastal development, the other an inner city subdivision where privacy became an issue.... I explored most of the complexities...

The first question I was asked by one of the Chinese students there was: "Do your planners have to be trained to act like lawyers...?"

The Professor commented: "You have a performance based planning system... it seems to be so complicated.... is it efficient...?"
That was a hard one to answer. What would you have said?

In my last slide I attempted to summarise my rough understanding of the main differences between land use  planning in NZ and China.

Which was possibly a little foolhardy. The next few slides give you a taste of what Professor Zhang Lei had for us....

First of all he explained China's planning system without any market reforms. You can see there were various levels of planning - from state control, down to the village collective.
He talked about the evolution of China's urban planning system, and you can see here that the background including "promoting economic development and comprehensively improving social development...."

(Makes an interesting contrast with what happened in New Zealand which in effect put environmental and economic development planning ahead of social development planning.)
This slide illustrates the administrative structures that were put in place to allow market mechanisms to operate. You can see here provision for private enterprise and foreign enterprise. He explained that whiel the names have changed for some of the institutions, the essential control structure remains in place.
And this slide illustrates the "One Note" and "Two Permit" approach to land development under the market reforms. We learned that under the reforms the state retains freehold title to all land - as I understand it - but releases land for development in 70 year lease lots. Master Planning is still at the heart of urban planning in China. Physical planning rather than effects based planning.
The Professor's presentation covered other aspects of urban planning - including an exploration of Beijing's Green Belt Plan. We learned that some informal farming and residential occupation was occurring in green belt land. This was being actively discouraged and people were being relocated to nearby residential developments. We understood that there was a high priority accorded to the protection of rural farmland.
This interesting slide illustrated urban development patterns in Beijing in the past 100 years or so - with factories and worker housing co-located in city blocks. In our site visits we saw examples of how this pattern was changing. Two postings from this trip illustrate these changes.

From factory to park in Shanghai. And factory building 798 conversion to artist quarter in Beijing.
As Beijing changes to accommodate huge expansion in population there is massive expansion of public and private residential development, where people have to travel much further for work and employment.

Throughout the study trip students had time to meet and discuss their findings, share their experiences and ask questions. In my observation their discussions with buddy students from China - who also wanted to know how planning was done in New Zealand - was one of the most valuable aspects of the trip. I think it is very important that New Zealand students understand from this sort of visit that other countries have other forms of planning, and that not every country has adopted such pro-market planning mechanisms as we have in New Zealand.
Another aspect of the tour that was of huge value was the opportunity to meet and talk with working Chinese planners, who had obtained their BPlan qualifications as overseas students at Auckland University. Their experiences, and their reflections on what had been of greatest educational value to them were revealing.

In my own experience of teaching planning, I am aware how frustrated some overseas students are at being taught RMA planning in NZ - because they know their local form of planning is very different. This frustration is also shared by some kiwi students who are keen to be educated in planning appropriate to work in other countries.

One of the most interesting comments from an Auckland Uni BPlan educated Chinese planner was about what she considered to be of greatest value from her four years at Auckland Planning School. She said it was the Studio sessions. She said when she started she was shy and quiet like most Chinese students. And was amazed how kiwi students would talk even when they didn't know very much during group work. She said that after a couple of years she learned to speak up too, and she learned the value of team work - how different people had different skills - and that you could work on projects as a group. She said that when she came back to China those kiwi communication and team-working skills were highly valued, and maybe responsible for her rapid promotion.

A very valuable study trip for all concerned. Made me think about what we might offer at Auckland University to better meet the needs of local and international planning students.

I would recommend the China study tour course to New Zealand planning students. And there's one more reason: there is a lot of development planning happening across China. The language of development planning there is English - we were told. The wages for skilled planners is rapidly approaching what planners get paid in New Zealand. Shanghai is the new Sydney.

7 comments:

Srk said...

Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for Students scholarship .

Srk said...

Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for Students scholarship .

Roger Matthews said...

"The Professor commented: "You have a performance based planning system... it seems to be so complicated.... is it efficient...?"" "That was a hard one to answer. What would you have said?"

I don't think that it is that hard to answer, I would have said that the answer is clearly 'no', when comparing our system against the certainty of rigid regulation.

By way of an example, I know a NZ architect who went to help build a house in a small town in rural New South Wales. He was told that 80% of the external clad, excluding glazing, had to be brick, and here is the three approved bricks that you can choose from. Wishing to build in concrete block he asked how he could apply for a dispensation; he was told that he couldn't as there was no process for this. When he pushed the point it was suggested that he find another town.

No what does this do to the cost of building? The local hardware stores only have to carry 3 types of brick. No concrete block, no weatherboard etc, etc. This dramatically reduces stock holding costs allowing retailers and wholesalers to live on lower margins.

The NZ system has really turned out as a game for lawyers and consultants. And I mean a game. We all know how it is played... you apply for a non-complying project or subdivision; the council knocks you back, the Environment Court knocks you back. You wait a year or so, tweak the proposal and the council knocks you back, the Environment Court gives you approval. Cynical I know but not too far from the truth.

Around the world, my understanding is that you can have dramatic changes in per-square-meter land value from one side of a urban growth boundary or green belt line to the other. I would suggest that in Auckland you would be hard pressed to find a great difference from one side to the other. This is the market giving a clear and unambiguous judgement on the robustness of the regulation.

David Willmott said...

THE RMA AND TOWN PLANNING

PART 1 – TRANSITION CAUSES AND EFFECTS

When the UK unilaterally "cut our apron strings" in favour of the EU in the sixties, we were thrust back onto our own resources to create new offshore markets for our exports. Being used to a feather bed and with an over-regulated economy sandbagging initiative and over-/taxation reducing the profitability of hard work, we failed to rise to the challenge.

In desperation, the government of the day did what it always does; - blame overseas causes and resort to major governmental interventions to “rectify” markets and “prime” the economy. New Zealand indulgesd in centrally-conceived “major projects" to spend a lot of money to “prime the economy” – a steel mill, an aluminium smelter, electrification of NIMTR etc – all on the presumption that New Zealand could benefit from enjoying a comparative advantage in the (then) cost of cheap (mostly hydro) power. The huge extra power demands saw us build the coal-fired Huntly station and Manapouri essentially to feed the Bluff Aluminium smelter (with the capital cost falling to the taxpayer instead of the smelter company, ie a subsidy/bribe from taxpayer to company). We also indulged in "major energy projects" of the type advocated by the Greens today, based then as now on the presumption that the cost of oil could only go through the cieling.

Wrong (as is again being proved today, which is why UN needs a carbon tax system to "manage development" - inject global socialism - as it can't rely on any carbon-fuel shortage to warrant such "global (UN) management"(rationing) of carbon-based fuels.

This left the energy conversion projects as national wealth-drainers rather than prosperity-drivers. By 1984 we were unable to pay even the interest on IMF loans, and were technically bankrupt, like Iceland and Ireland recently, with many others – prospectively including New Zealand – about to follow.

In 1884 the IMF agreed to "roll our loans over" provided we "freed up the economy" from the excessive regulation strangling it (remember Muldoon's "fixing" of wages and prices, and the need to get a permit from the Minister for any new industry?). That is, it wanted "more (wealth-creating) market", less wealth-draining government.

The old TCPAct was a primary candidate for the firing line, the planning process having become “a little Hitler” as to what one was allowed to do with one's property. The new system was to be "more enabling" of private sector property owners including social and commercial groups to develop and use their property however they liked to more easily create personal betterment ie wealth, subject only to bottom line (minimal) societal requirements.

Around then, Rachel Carson (a cancer-sufferer seeing carcinogens everywhere) and the Club of Rome (almost without exception a bunch of would-be central-planners-for-single-issue ecology who in consequence were born-again Malthusians – check the list) were gaining traction and followers of their environmental belief/subjection system were crystallising around the likes of Greenpeace. So societal ("property value") "bottom line" effects were expanded to include for environmental effects, without regard for the effects back on the economy – except that a Section 32 was included in the RMA to require all policies, plans etc to be subject to cost/benefit consideration. As Simon Upton said when he introduced the bill to the house; "with this bill you could build a piggery in Queen Street provided you contain the effects".

David Willmott said...

THE RMA AND TOWN PLANNING

PART 2 – RMA INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION

As we all now know, the (then) ARC's town-planners-relabelled-resource-managers imported the American architect-driven town planning construct dressed in green drag known as "smart (sic) growth" as the basis for the RMA-required "Regional Policy Statement" and subsequent Plans. Section 32 was effectively ignored - refer eg the 2.3 pages on the “Transport” chapter in the ARC’s 1996 “Section 32 Report”, which included no costs or indeed any numbers – and has been so ever since.

“Environmental standards” rapidly became absolutist (uncosted) “high jump barriers” to development, often adding cost well in excess of any true value (ie value which cash and resource-limited citizens would themselves purchase from choice). In short, certain environmental “goods” are defined as “sustainability” in action, and are then used to trump and frustrate economic development, arguably excessively and without adequate warrant or even concern for the inevitable consequences. “Sustainability” has become developmental stasis (“stop-the-worldism”) and has induced socio-economic stasis now turning to stagnation.

Thus RMA-prescribed processes differ from the old TCPA principally by (i) adding Agenda 21-specified UN/ICLEI-driven “Sustainable Development” (which transfers to Councils dominated by special-interest pressure groups (UN-funded Enviro-NGOs come to mind) control of the social and environmental considerations involved in any previously economics-dominated development and use of land by the private sector), (ii) including for universal consultation (which invariably results in validation of “Smart Growth" planning), and (iii) assigning iwi-rights, effectively to veto owner-proposed changes in land development or use. Otherwise, our actual plans and associated regulations, controls and policing thereof are indeed town planning of the old school type eminently suitable for use in China.

Joel Cayford said...

Thank you David Willmott for your two contributions which relate to the original post.

Phil Brown said...

Hi Joel,

I am an Auckland University planning student in my third year and read your blog posts from time to time as they are often pretty relevant to what I'm learning about. I actually transferred from Palmerston North at the beginning of this year to complete the last 2 years of my planning degree in Auckland. What I find interesting is that Auckland planning students think that there is too much emphasis on the RMA, but compared to what is taught in Palmerston North it seems only a minor part of the course. The Massey University planning degree is basically centred around the RMA. While I understand that this is a huge part of the planning system in NZ, I didn't think that there was enough of a balance in Palmerston North. Part of the reason why I decided to transfer universities is because I heard that in Auckland there is more focus on urban planning and design, something which began to interest me more.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask a few questions about a) actually getting planning work experience and b) how easy it is for a student like me to study planning abroad. With regards to getting work experience, I just want to get a feel for what it is like to actually be a planner. Obviously I know all about legislation, the issues planners may face and the broad tasks that they do. However I still genuinely have very little idea of the specific, day to day parts of the job which seems crazy, considering that I have been studying it for nearly 3 years now. The problem is that I don't have many planning contacts and therefore don't really know where to start looking for work experience. The whole task seems a bit daunting at the moment (I have tried to contact a few people thus far such as the Auckland City Council and a selection of others, however they haven't provided much help...). I guess my question is, what do you recommend I should do?

My second question was about studying planning overseas, potentially next year. I think it would be heaps of fun and a great experience to go overseas to study planning for a year. Do the people who do this usually have good, or above average grades? (I would classify myself as an average student, in terms of grades). I also wonder whether in my 4th and final year it could be too late to study abroad, but I could be wrong there.

Interested in hearing your thoughts, hopefully you have time to read and respond to my post. It turned out a bit longer than I planned for. Thanks!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Teaching Planning: Beijing and Auckland

Fourth Year students from the Planning School at Auckland University went on a study tour to China visiting Beijing and Shanghai. In Beijing they visited Renmin University.... generally known as "The People's University of China".
Here are the kiwi students outside Renmin University's main library building. The tour was organised by Kai Gu, Professor of Urban Planning at Auckland University. About half the students were european kiwi, about a quarter were chinese kiwi, and  a quarter chinese chinese - overseas students studying planning at Auckland Uni.

I went along at Kai's invitation, paying my own way, keen to learn. I was also asked to give a lecture in the local planning school about New Zealand planning and the RMA. More later...
According to the University website, we read that the following statements about the university:

Vision: To Build Remnin University of China into “a World-Renowned University that is Approved by and Satisfies the People”.

Mission: to Educate for the People, to Conduct Scholarship for the Country

Motto: To Seek Truth from Facts

Central Idea: People’s University, A Spirit of Humanism, A Focus on Humanities and Social Sciences

Cultivation Goal: To Create Outstanding Exemplars of the Country, and the Backbone of the Society"


This is the Business School at the university. Apparently the University was originally established in 1937 during the resistance war against Japanese aggression. It was renamed Renmin University of China in 1950 and is one of the most prestigious universities in China, with a distinct focus on humanities and social sciences.

Renmin University has produced many influential figures in China's reform and development, and is home to many outstanding scholars in law, economics, journalism and other fields. I understand that many senior political figures studied at Renmin Uni. In 2009, RUC reached an enrollment of 22,856 full-time students, including 10,852 undergraduate students, 9,834 postgraduate students, 1,578 international students and 592 other students.

Here the visiting students mix and mingle with their buddies from Renmin's Planning School. Studenst had a number of planning projects to research during the visit - including comparative planning, policies for intensification, policies for heritage protection.
Before I get into the comparative planning stuff, a few pictures to give an impression of the "city within a city" feel of the Renmin University Campus. You access it via one of several entry gates, and there is a grid network of streets - with low speed limit - interconnecting the different schools and buildings.

Lots of cycle parking. And being in the middle of metropolitan Beijing there was very good public transport access.
In the background are student accommodation buildings. Many post graduate students live on site. Very pleasant park like settings are part of campus. Accommodation is not that great though - as students must share rooms - several to a room.
This new building in the campus caught my eye because I think it's the first time I've seen a building whose roof area was completely covered by photo-voltaic cells.
Ok. So here's me at the end of my little talk about RMA planning NZ. You can imagine what I covered. But I'll give you a couple of slides from the talk, and an idea of the questions that were asked by Professor Zhang Lei (sitting directly in front of me in the pic...)

I began by talking about the history of planning in NZ. Town and Country Planning and all that - then got into the build up to the RMA.

The main forces included those who wanted much greater protection for the environment...
...and we had the neo-liberal force as well - which I tried to summarise in this slide...
Then I described in some detail a couple of planning case studies - one a coastal development, the other an inner city subdivision where privacy became an issue.... I explored most of the complexities...

The first question I was asked by one of the Chinese students there was: "Do your planners have to be trained to act like lawyers...?"

The Professor commented: "You have a performance based planning system... it seems to be so complicated.... is it efficient...?"
That was a hard one to answer. What would you have said?

In my last slide I attempted to summarise my rough understanding of the main differences between land use  planning in NZ and China.

Which was possibly a little foolhardy. The next few slides give you a taste of what Professor Zhang Lei had for us....

First of all he explained China's planning system without any market reforms. You can see there were various levels of planning - from state control, down to the village collective.
He talked about the evolution of China's urban planning system, and you can see here that the background including "promoting economic development and comprehensively improving social development...."

(Makes an interesting contrast with what happened in New Zealand which in effect put environmental and economic development planning ahead of social development planning.)
This slide illustrates the administrative structures that were put in place to allow market mechanisms to operate. You can see here provision for private enterprise and foreign enterprise. He explained that whiel the names have changed for some of the institutions, the essential control structure remains in place.
And this slide illustrates the "One Note" and "Two Permit" approach to land development under the market reforms. We learned that under the reforms the state retains freehold title to all land - as I understand it - but releases land for development in 70 year lease lots. Master Planning is still at the heart of urban planning in China. Physical planning rather than effects based planning.
The Professor's presentation covered other aspects of urban planning - including an exploration of Beijing's Green Belt Plan. We learned that some informal farming and residential occupation was occurring in green belt land. This was being actively discouraged and people were being relocated to nearby residential developments. We understood that there was a high priority accorded to the protection of rural farmland.
This interesting slide illustrated urban development patterns in Beijing in the past 100 years or so - with factories and worker housing co-located in city blocks. In our site visits we saw examples of how this pattern was changing. Two postings from this trip illustrate these changes.

From factory to park in Shanghai. And factory building 798 conversion to artist quarter in Beijing.
As Beijing changes to accommodate huge expansion in population there is massive expansion of public and private residential development, where people have to travel much further for work and employment.

Throughout the study trip students had time to meet and discuss their findings, share their experiences and ask questions. In my observation their discussions with buddy students from China - who also wanted to know how planning was done in New Zealand - was one of the most valuable aspects of the trip. I think it is very important that New Zealand students understand from this sort of visit that other countries have other forms of planning, and that not every country has adopted such pro-market planning mechanisms as we have in New Zealand.
Another aspect of the tour that was of huge value was the opportunity to meet and talk with working Chinese planners, who had obtained their BPlan qualifications as overseas students at Auckland University. Their experiences, and their reflections on what had been of greatest educational value to them were revealing.

In my own experience of teaching planning, I am aware how frustrated some overseas students are at being taught RMA planning in NZ - because they know their local form of planning is very different. This frustration is also shared by some kiwi students who are keen to be educated in planning appropriate to work in other countries.

One of the most interesting comments from an Auckland Uni BPlan educated Chinese planner was about what she considered to be of greatest value from her four years at Auckland Planning School. She said it was the Studio sessions. She said when she started she was shy and quiet like most Chinese students. And was amazed how kiwi students would talk even when they didn't know very much during group work. She said that after a couple of years she learned to speak up too, and she learned the value of team work - how different people had different skills - and that you could work on projects as a group. She said that when she came back to China those kiwi communication and team-working skills were highly valued, and maybe responsible for her rapid promotion.

A very valuable study trip for all concerned. Made me think about what we might offer at Auckland University to better meet the needs of local and international planning students.

I would recommend the China study tour course to New Zealand planning students. And there's one more reason: there is a lot of development planning happening across China. The language of development planning there is English - we were told. The wages for skilled planners is rapidly approaching what planners get paid in New Zealand. Shanghai is the new Sydney.

7 comments:

Srk said...

Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for Students scholarship .

Srk said...

Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for Students scholarship .

Roger Matthews said...

"The Professor commented: "You have a performance based planning system... it seems to be so complicated.... is it efficient...?"" "That was a hard one to answer. What would you have said?"

I don't think that it is that hard to answer, I would have said that the answer is clearly 'no', when comparing our system against the certainty of rigid regulation.

By way of an example, I know a NZ architect who went to help build a house in a small town in rural New South Wales. He was told that 80% of the external clad, excluding glazing, had to be brick, and here is the three approved bricks that you can choose from. Wishing to build in concrete block he asked how he could apply for a dispensation; he was told that he couldn't as there was no process for this. When he pushed the point it was suggested that he find another town.

No what does this do to the cost of building? The local hardware stores only have to carry 3 types of brick. No concrete block, no weatherboard etc, etc. This dramatically reduces stock holding costs allowing retailers and wholesalers to live on lower margins.

The NZ system has really turned out as a game for lawyers and consultants. And I mean a game. We all know how it is played... you apply for a non-complying project or subdivision; the council knocks you back, the Environment Court knocks you back. You wait a year or so, tweak the proposal and the council knocks you back, the Environment Court gives you approval. Cynical I know but not too far from the truth.

Around the world, my understanding is that you can have dramatic changes in per-square-meter land value from one side of a urban growth boundary or green belt line to the other. I would suggest that in Auckland you would be hard pressed to find a great difference from one side to the other. This is the market giving a clear and unambiguous judgement on the robustness of the regulation.

David Willmott said...

THE RMA AND TOWN PLANNING

PART 1 – TRANSITION CAUSES AND EFFECTS

When the UK unilaterally "cut our apron strings" in favour of the EU in the sixties, we were thrust back onto our own resources to create new offshore markets for our exports. Being used to a feather bed and with an over-regulated economy sandbagging initiative and over-/taxation reducing the profitability of hard work, we failed to rise to the challenge.

In desperation, the government of the day did what it always does; - blame overseas causes and resort to major governmental interventions to “rectify” markets and “prime” the economy. New Zealand indulgesd in centrally-conceived “major projects" to spend a lot of money to “prime the economy” – a steel mill, an aluminium smelter, electrification of NIMTR etc – all on the presumption that New Zealand could benefit from enjoying a comparative advantage in the (then) cost of cheap (mostly hydro) power. The huge extra power demands saw us build the coal-fired Huntly station and Manapouri essentially to feed the Bluff Aluminium smelter (with the capital cost falling to the taxpayer instead of the smelter company, ie a subsidy/bribe from taxpayer to company). We also indulged in "major energy projects" of the type advocated by the Greens today, based then as now on the presumption that the cost of oil could only go through the cieling.

Wrong (as is again being proved today, which is why UN needs a carbon tax system to "manage development" - inject global socialism - as it can't rely on any carbon-fuel shortage to warrant such "global (UN) management"(rationing) of carbon-based fuels.

This left the energy conversion projects as national wealth-drainers rather than prosperity-drivers. By 1984 we were unable to pay even the interest on IMF loans, and were technically bankrupt, like Iceland and Ireland recently, with many others – prospectively including New Zealand – about to follow.

In 1884 the IMF agreed to "roll our loans over" provided we "freed up the economy" from the excessive regulation strangling it (remember Muldoon's "fixing" of wages and prices, and the need to get a permit from the Minister for any new industry?). That is, it wanted "more (wealth-creating) market", less wealth-draining government.

The old TCPAct was a primary candidate for the firing line, the planning process having become “a little Hitler” as to what one was allowed to do with one's property. The new system was to be "more enabling" of private sector property owners including social and commercial groups to develop and use their property however they liked to more easily create personal betterment ie wealth, subject only to bottom line (minimal) societal requirements.

Around then, Rachel Carson (a cancer-sufferer seeing carcinogens everywhere) and the Club of Rome (almost without exception a bunch of would-be central-planners-for-single-issue ecology who in consequence were born-again Malthusians – check the list) were gaining traction and followers of their environmental belief/subjection system were crystallising around the likes of Greenpeace. So societal ("property value") "bottom line" effects were expanded to include for environmental effects, without regard for the effects back on the economy – except that a Section 32 was included in the RMA to require all policies, plans etc to be subject to cost/benefit consideration. As Simon Upton said when he introduced the bill to the house; "with this bill you could build a piggery in Queen Street provided you contain the effects".

David Willmott said...

THE RMA AND TOWN PLANNING

PART 2 – RMA INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION

As we all now know, the (then) ARC's town-planners-relabelled-resource-managers imported the American architect-driven town planning construct dressed in green drag known as "smart (sic) growth" as the basis for the RMA-required "Regional Policy Statement" and subsequent Plans. Section 32 was effectively ignored - refer eg the 2.3 pages on the “Transport” chapter in the ARC’s 1996 “Section 32 Report”, which included no costs or indeed any numbers – and has been so ever since.

“Environmental standards” rapidly became absolutist (uncosted) “high jump barriers” to development, often adding cost well in excess of any true value (ie value which cash and resource-limited citizens would themselves purchase from choice). In short, certain environmental “goods” are defined as “sustainability” in action, and are then used to trump and frustrate economic development, arguably excessively and without adequate warrant or even concern for the inevitable consequences. “Sustainability” has become developmental stasis (“stop-the-worldism”) and has induced socio-economic stasis now turning to stagnation.

Thus RMA-prescribed processes differ from the old TCPA principally by (i) adding Agenda 21-specified UN/ICLEI-driven “Sustainable Development” (which transfers to Councils dominated by special-interest pressure groups (UN-funded Enviro-NGOs come to mind) control of the social and environmental considerations involved in any previously economics-dominated development and use of land by the private sector), (ii) including for universal consultation (which invariably results in validation of “Smart Growth" planning), and (iii) assigning iwi-rights, effectively to veto owner-proposed changes in land development or use. Otherwise, our actual plans and associated regulations, controls and policing thereof are indeed town planning of the old school type eminently suitable for use in China.

Joel Cayford said...

Thank you David Willmott for your two contributions which relate to the original post.

Phil Brown said...

Hi Joel,

I am an Auckland University planning student in my third year and read your blog posts from time to time as they are often pretty relevant to what I'm learning about. I actually transferred from Palmerston North at the beginning of this year to complete the last 2 years of my planning degree in Auckland. What I find interesting is that Auckland planning students think that there is too much emphasis on the RMA, but compared to what is taught in Palmerston North it seems only a minor part of the course. The Massey University planning degree is basically centred around the RMA. While I understand that this is a huge part of the planning system in NZ, I didn't think that there was enough of a balance in Palmerston North. Part of the reason why I decided to transfer universities is because I heard that in Auckland there is more focus on urban planning and design, something which began to interest me more.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask a few questions about a) actually getting planning work experience and b) how easy it is for a student like me to study planning abroad. With regards to getting work experience, I just want to get a feel for what it is like to actually be a planner. Obviously I know all about legislation, the issues planners may face and the broad tasks that they do. However I still genuinely have very little idea of the specific, day to day parts of the job which seems crazy, considering that I have been studying it for nearly 3 years now. The problem is that I don't have many planning contacts and therefore don't really know where to start looking for work experience. The whole task seems a bit daunting at the moment (I have tried to contact a few people thus far such as the Auckland City Council and a selection of others, however they haven't provided much help...). I guess my question is, what do you recommend I should do?

My second question was about studying planning overseas, potentially next year. I think it would be heaps of fun and a great experience to go overseas to study planning for a year. Do the people who do this usually have good, or above average grades? (I would classify myself as an average student, in terms of grades). I also wonder whether in my 4th and final year it could be too late to study abroad, but I could be wrong there.

Interested in hearing your thoughts, hopefully you have time to read and respond to my post. It turned out a bit longer than I planned for. Thanks!